At 9.05am on 8 April, the head of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Sun Qin, declared to workers and officials gathered in the unit’s control room that the reactor had successfully begun commercial operation, 60 days ahead of schedule. He said that the Qinshan Phase II expansion project – the construction of units 3 and 4 – is ‘now fully complete and commissioned.’
The reactor, a CNP-600, is a locally-designed and constructed two-loop pressurized water reactor (PWR) design rated at 650 MWe. It has taken about five years to build, with first concrete for the unit poured in January 2007. The unit was connected to the grid on 25 November 2011, becoming China’s 15th operating nuclear power reactor.
CNNC also held a thematic briefing at the Zhejiang Grand Theatre to mark the completion of the Qinshan Phase II expansion project. The event was attended by senior company representatives, as well as local and national government figures. Mr Zubin, president of CNNC’s plant construction subsidiary China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Corporation (CNECC), told those gathered that the project was of ‘special significance’ to CNNC as it had been carefully managed to help develop China’s nuclear industry and had ‘laid a good foundation’ for the country’s rapid development of nuclear power.
Qinshan Phase II is already home to three operating CNP-600s, built with a high degree of localisation. Units 1 and 2, comprising the first stage of Phase II, began operating in 2002 and 2004, respectively. Construction of the second stage was formally inaugurated at the end of April 2006, although first concrete had been poured for unit 3 the previous month. First concrete for unit 4 was poured in February 2007. Unit 3 entered commercial operation in October 2010.
Phase I of the plant saw the construction of a 300 MWe PWR start in 1985 – the first indigenously-designed Chinese nuclear power station to be built. Phase III consists of two 750 MWe pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) supplied by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and commissioned in 2002 and 2003.
The Qinshan plant now consists of seven reactors with a combined capacity of 4320 MWe. The plant is expected to generate some 34 billion kWh of electricity annually.
While current Chinese new build projects continue, approval of new plants remains suspended as officials respond to last year’s Fukushima accident.